Pope St. Pius X and the Marians

On Aug. 21, the feast of Pope St. Pius X (1835-1914), we recall the Holy Father's special role in the Marian Congregation.

Let's take a look back, 114 years ago. The date is July 20, 1909. The scene is the Marian Monastery of Mariampol, Lithuania.

Father Vincent Sekowski, MIC, Superior General of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, appears troubled. He is an old man, the last surviving member of the Congregation that was founded in 1673 by Blessed Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczynski (1631-1701). The elderly priest writes a desperate letter to Pope Pius X. We read from Fr. Vincent's letter:

"From 1864 no new novices were permitted to enter the Congregation and, consequently, of all the Marians that had been, I am the only one left; the others have died."

Father Vincent asks permission for novices to secretly enter the Marians, specifying that the Congregation's white habits be replaced with diocesan black cassocks or secular garb so the secret police won't notice them. Second, he asks permission to wave Canon Law so he can immediately permit a parish priest to become a Marian without going through the novitiate. 

Original letter in Latin, written by Fr. Sekowski to Pope Pius X, requesting to preserve the existence of the Marians in an extraordinary manner, and a power of attorney for Fr. Matulaitis to handle matters related to the further existence of the Order.

Permission granted
The Pope approves both requests, and on Aug. 29, 1909, Fr. George Matulaitis becomes a Marian. He completes the new Marian Constitutions in 1910 and directs a secret novitiate for the renovated Congregation. Three months later after Fr. Vincent's death on April 10, 1911, the revived Marians elect Fr. George as Superior General.

Today, we know him as Blessed George, Marian Renovator. Without this man, there would be no Marian Congregation, no Association of Marian Helpers, and the history of Divine Mercy would have been written differently. And we owe a special thanks to Pope St. Pius X.

Blessed George gave up everything to join a dying religious order. What kind of man takes this type of risk, to embrace a future that must have appeared as dreary as a funeral cortege? It takes someone who knows the world's accolades are silly toys. It takes one who measures success with humility learned from failure.

It takes a man like Blessed George.

Read more about the history of the Marian Congregation here.


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